Sunday, 17 June 2012

Patent Prosecution Highway

The Patents Prosecution Highway is properly marketed as being a program that can result in fast examination for those applications that can take advantage. However there is a good deal of false marketing on the basis that it assists in handling the backlog.

Few usable statistics are available – largely because few applicants take advantage. The best source is the statistics page on the Patents Prosecution Highway portal.

The statistics show a major reduction in the time to first office action, and time to final decision. This shows that the offices participating take the program seriously. With the low number of participating applications, it is not too hard for the participating countries to handle the cases.

However, the portal also shows some irrelevant statistics. The grant rate and first action allowance rate for PPH cases is shown in comparison with the general rates for the countries concerned. It is this that has caused some unnecessary excitement as to whether the program can affect backlogs in examination.

It is hardly surprising that if an application has been found patentable by one examiner, it will have a higher chance of being found patentable by another examiner. To determine whether PPH has any positive effect would require comparing those cases that could participate in PPH but didn’t; with those that could and did

However at present, the presentation of the grant rate and first action allowance rate on the PPH portal is largely meaningless. Re-shuffling the queue does not necessarily change the length of the queue.

Of course, if the shuffling is done in a way that persuades some people to leave the queue, that might help.  How about reverse PPH – if you have no claims found allowable at the office of first filing, you go to the back of the queue?

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